By: John M Jerva

A week from this Friday, the long awaited sequel to I Am Vengeance finally hits its way onto digital and VOD with action star Stu Bennett returning as lethal mercenary John Gold. Aptly titled I Am Vengeance: Retaliation, the trailer hit a few weeks back which promises a bigger and badder follow up to the predecessor with film legend Vinnie Jones joining the cast as the ruthless Sean Teague who is a fellow comrade who declares war on Gold and his team.

Releasing on Digital Platforms and VOD Friday, June 19th, Director Ross Boyask returns to helm the carnage once again and promises an adrenaline laced chase film that has all the firepower and fisticuffs that genre fans could hope for.

Boyask, in a mission statement for the film, talked about the success of the first film and how it propelled this must see sequel and how it won’t repeat what audiences saw in the first film.

I Am Vengeance: Retaliation came about due to the overwhelmingly positive results we achieved with the first film in terms of the production process, but also due to our international sales and distribution success. It was incredibly important to us during the development process, that the audience could watch this film in isolation from the first one and keep up with the story and the characters. The script reflected this – if you have watched the first Vengeance film, everything will still connect and make sense, but if you haven’t watched it, you can still understand the second film on its own merits.

It was also key that this sequel was not just “more of the same”. The first film was a revenge film where our protagonist essentially went from place to place, killing his opponents. I Am Vengeance: Retaliation is, in reality, a far more action-packed chase movie. And while John Gold is still very much the lead character, this is more of a team film, as opposed to a solo film, in that we build up a strike force team that Gold leads on his mission.

The I Am Vengeance franchise was born out of Boyask’s love for classic action films of the 80’s and 90’s and the director spoke about the films that inspired it and also chatted about having a bigger budget for the experience.

The Vengeance franchise has really stemmed from my love of classic action movies of the 70s and 80s and obsession with old-school “man on a mission” films such as “Point Blank”, “Enter The Dragon” and “Commando”, and more recently films like the “Walking Tall” remake and the first “Taken” movie. My first few features as director were made on weekends and evenings, for spare change and with a lot of hard work from everyone involved, and I was fortunate that those films sold around the world. Vengeance represented my first feature as a writer/director where I was also blessed with a budget, resources and even some pre-sales in place. Such luxury! And I Am Vengeance: Retaliation takes all of this to the next level. It’s a much more ambitious film with exhilarating set-pieces, but it still retains a wry sense of humour that grounds the characters amongst all of the elevated action insanity.

Most action fans like myself are longing for action films like the ones that we got back in the day that used practical stunts and effects and Boyask agrees that films of this nature should get back to its roots and deliver a throwback and nostalgic feel.

I feel that action films should get back to basics. Most of my favourite films, and films that have endured are normally a simple story, well told. Also a lot of contemporary action films are chock-full of CGI, which always looks fake, and action sequences shot on “shaky-cam” and edited to the point of complete incomprehensibility, so my intention was to ensure that the action sequences were told with clarity, and that there was just as much story in a fight sequence as in a dialogue scene. A fight scene, after all, is simply an argument escalated to the point of physical conflict.

In terms of the actual production of the sequel, Boyask praised how smooth it ran and wants the audience to get their money’s worth when they watch it.

The production process on I Am Vengeance: Retaliation ran remarkably smoothly for what is actually a huge independent action film – 19 fight scenes, plus shoot-outs, explosions, a brief truck chase, and even some talking bits, with just 22 shooting days to achieve all of it. I was blessed with a tremendously passionate and talented crew and cast, all pushing far beyond the call of duty to deliver the film to as high a standard as possible. During post-production we shaped the film down from a first cut that was nearly 20 minutes too long, to a much leaner, meaner final product. We only deleted 2 scenes in their entirety, but we trimmed virtually every scene to refine the film to a non-stop, action- packed chase movie that still had time for character development and moments of humour.

I’m hoping that the audience will enjoy the story and the characters of I Am Vengeance: Retaliation just as much as the action sequences. We’re very proud of our strong and charming female characters, and for the legions of fans of Stu Bennett, it is going to be intriguing to see their response to his character in the film, as they have certain expectations of him based on his well-established wrestling career.

Lastly, it was well documented that Vinnie Jones was added to the cast and he definitely will be a formidable opponent for Bennett’s John Gold.

Fans of Vinnie Jones should also be very satisfied, as he has some very strong character moments, as well as getting stuck into the action sequences. Fans of action films will certainly not be disappointed, but I also hope that a more mainstream audience will be attracted to it as well.

Like I mentioned, the initial trailer did not disappoint and the film looks like it’s going to be the first film on way more steroids. Action phenom Jean-Paul Ly of Jailbreak and Nightshooters also has a prominent role so here’s hoping he gets ample opportunity to showcase his breakneck martial arts abilities.

Action maestro Tim Man is handling all the fight action do if it’s anything like Triple Threat and Ninja 2 that he did we are in for a real bone jarring treat. Man is one of the top action coordinators in the world and he always brings the excitement.

I love the poster and trailer and the throwback 80’s and 90’s feel to it and this sequel promises to enhance the bone crunching action of the original with a host of top tier action talent involved in front of and behind the camera.

Other cast members include Mark Griffin who returns as Frost and new additions Phoebe Robinson-Galvin, Jessica-Jane Stanford, Joe Egan, Josh Myers, Lee Charles, Katrina Durden, David Schaal, Greg Burridge, Bentley Kalu, Sam Benjamin, Jacob Anderton, and Law Plancel.

Saban Films will bring the heat on June 19th when the film hits Digital and VOD so in the meantime, check out the trailer to set the mood!

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